Death of Brooklyn cyclist spurs closer look at dangerous interse
BY MIKE MCLAUGHLIN
Wednesday, December 23rd 2009, 4:00 AM
A fatal crash on a busy Greenpoint street has sparked demands the city tame the neighborhood’s most dangerous intersection.
The death of Solange Raulston, 33, killed last Sunday on her bicycle by a trucker, highlighted the peril for cyclists and pedestrians crossing McGuinness Blvd. at Nassau Ave.
"This is very dangerous. It’s obviously the busiest road in the area," said Thaddeus Szumilas, 56, a typeface designer from Greenpoint. "You have to look left, look right and be careful."
Raulston, a deejay known as Reverend Soul who spun soul and funk grooves, was pedaling westbound on Nassau Ave. when a flatbed truck driving in the same direction sideswiped her.
Transportation Alternatives, which tracks accident data, said that there were 34 crashes involving pedestrians and cyclists from 1995-2005 at Nassau and McGuinness, making it the most dangerous in the Greenpoint/Williamsburg area.
The group’s spokesman said the junction is hazardous because it’s the meeting point of cars and trucks speeding down McGuinness Blvd. with the large numbers of pedestrians on the bustling Nassau Ave. commercial strip.
"[On McGuinness Blvd.] that traffic is in highway mode," said spokesman Wiley Norvell. "It’s an intersection that’s not designed with pedestrian safety in mind."
Since 2005, there were accidents involving 14 pedestrians, including one deadly crash last year, and another cyclist, according to the city Department of Transportation.
The city will begin reconstructing Nassau Ave. next year in a project that calls for improving safety by shortening the distance it takes to cross the street.
"Safety is our top priority and we will continue to look at ways to enhance this location," said DOT spokesman Scott Gastel.
Critics say the city could make it safer by giving pedestrians and bikers more time to cross McGuinness Blvd. before the light turns green and by enlarging the median.
"You can only go halfway before you have to run to the other side," said Neighbors Allied for Good Growth board member Lacey Tauber.
But even by Transportation Alternatives’ own records, this intersection does not rank as one of the worst in Brooklyn.
Eastern Parkway and Utica Ave., which topped the list for the borough, had almost four times as many collisions involving pedestrians as the Greenpoint trouble spot.